I'm talking about the following question:

How can I run a web page in task scheduler every day?

The user is asking for a way to make its computer perform an action to "cheat" the SO system and trick it into thinking he's been visiting every day so he won't lose his consecutive days count. Should we answer or even allow questions like that?

My first reaction would be no... I'd like to hear your opinion since the question itself "How can I run a web page in task scheduler every day?" might be a useful question that may even yield useful answers. However, the user specifically states he will use it to "cheat" the SE system.

Do mind that I'm not asking about what we should do in this specific case, but what we should do with questions of that kind.

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Whilst it may not be breaking any rules anywhere, I personally down voted and would like to see it closed on the grounds of trying to undermine the spirit of the site.

If this website did not have a community, fair enough - single "player" cheating is just cheating yourself, but, there are other people here and in the same way as you don't go to a MMORPG forum and ask about hacking it, you shouldn't ask about how to cheat the site here!

He could have easily lied/generalised the question such as "How do I open a site automatically on a schedule"... I have no idea what went through his mind to post something blatant like that. IMHO, it is simple cheating!

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    the "spirit" of the question can be relevant, when you have strong reason to believe it is asked in bad faith. – Jeff Atwood Aug 28 '11 at 21:42
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    @JeffAtwood Might just be me, but I find it hard to understand what you are saying here... :P – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 21:49
  • @TomWijsman Yes I can do translations fine thank you very much! :P But it's like an ancient Chinese saying! It doesn't answer anything for me! xD – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 22:06
  • @BloodPhilia: Just checking... But, I think he means we should question the intent of the question, when it would be more generalized. I usually leave a comment to ask "why" they need a certain problem solved. – Tamara Wijsman Aug 28 '11 at 22:07
  • @TomWijsman yes but question it and then? :P – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 22:08
  • @BloodPhilia: Let our mind or heart choose what we do with it? :) – Tamara Wijsman Aug 28 '11 at 22:09
  • An MMORPG is a perfect example (and there are a few users who do dare to ask about these things over the in-game chat, which is sometimes followed immediately by a "$USER's connection was terminated by $MODERATOR" type of message; I've noticed that new accounts with low skill levels tend to be used to present these types of questions, no doubt because the player doesn't want to tarnish the reputation of their main account). – Randolf Richardson Aug 29 '11 at 0:46

Flag it for deletion. Attempts to circumvent the system make it unfair for other users who don't cheat.

Also, the focus of this web site is not "how to cheat the system" but to help others with legitimate problems. I certainly don't consider that type of question to be legitimate.

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Sending an automated daily request is not restricted by the Stack Exchange Network Terms of Service.

If he wants to cheat that way, he can go ahead and do so... He only fools himself.

  • Person A: Look on my profile, I have a Fanatic badge and have been here for X days.

  • Person B: That looks great, but you don't seem to have anything else...

For the question; we should just close it as off-topic because it's not a topic we want to help people in.

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    Nor is it prohibited to have two accounts and make them vote for each other per that TOS. However, the system does perform heuristic scans on user activity to detect such "cheating". A user may be banned for that... – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 21:31
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    Fair enough, if he wants to cheat, let him... However, I got the feeling that this is more about openly discussing of/asking questions about cheating on this site :/ – William Hilsum Aug 28 '11 at 21:34
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    @BloodPhilia: It is prohibited: Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to (c) create a false identity or to impersonate another person – Tamara Wijsman Aug 28 '11 at 21:36
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    @William, yes, yes it it, that's why I phrased the question to be more general. – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 21:36
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    @TomWijsman I see, didn't see that in my quick scanning! Another thing learned :D – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 21:37
  • @BloodPhilia: But I have to agree that suspensions happen not based on the TOS, but I don't think we should disallow this behavior. Of course, answering such question is still discourages by most visitors so we might just want to close it as "off-topic" because it's not really a topic we want to help people in... – Tamara Wijsman Aug 28 '11 at 21:40
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    @TomWijsman So it "should be" frowned upon, but not forbidden... – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 21:40
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    @BloodPhilia: Yeah, added an extra line to address your actual question. – Tamara Wijsman Aug 28 '11 at 21:42
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    I agree with this. It's just a badge, and not one that indicates anything about the user's reputation or contributions. Let them cheat. – user59659 Aug 28 '11 at 21:51

In general I think this falls into the realms of should the question be entertained for ethical reasons, and the Community will be the judge of that by choosing whether to answer it or flag it for closure.

In the case of that particuar question, I'm sure it would be trivial for the site code to differentiate a simple page load from some real work effort - maybe it does already.

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    It already does... a simple poke isn't enough. – Pylsa Aug 28 '11 at 21:59
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    @Linker3000: And thus ban a tool / extension that automatically obtains the front page questions every hour? You are most likely going to get false positives by implementing such behavior. – Tamara Wijsman Aug 28 '11 at 22:06
  • @Tom Wijsman I didn't mention 'banning'? – Linker3000 Aug 29 '11 at 11:23

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